Turkey Pesto Panini

turkey pesto panini plated.

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5 from 9 reviews

Turkey, fresh pesto, cheese and tomatoes pressed together for a tasty Turkey Pesto Panini. You can make this with leftover turkey or sliced deli turkey — both work great! The instructions here are for one panini, but you can easily scale up this recipe based on the number of sandwiches you would like.



For the pesto (skip if you already have some – you will want about 2 tablespoons of pesto per sandwich)

  • 1 cup basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds

For the sandwich

  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1 slices cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices turkey breast – leftover turkey or deli turkey
  • 2 tbsp basil pesto
  • handful of spinach
  • 1 thin slice of fresh tomato
  • 1 tbsp softened butter


  1. Make the pesto (if you don’t have on hand): Add the garlic to a food processor, and pulse to mince. Add the remaining ingredients, and process on high until everything is well combined. Set the pesto aside.
  2. Preheat a sandwich press. See notes below for approach without a sandwich press. Spread half the butter on one side of a piece of bread. Spread the remaining butter on one side of the second piece of bread. Place both buttered sides down on a plate.
  3. Spread the pesto (we use about 2 tablespoons of pesto) on one of the unbuttered sides of bread, and set aside.
  4. Add cheese & turkey: On the other unbuttered side of bread, add slice of cheese, followed by the turkey. Place the tomato on top of the turkey, then top with the spinach.
  5. Close the sandwich up by taking the bread with the pesto and placing it pesto side down on the cheese.
  6. Heat the panini: Carefully move the sandwich and set it in the heated press. Gently press down on the sandwich maker. The sandwich takes about 3 to 5 minutes to get the cheese melted and develop those nice griddle marks. Keep an eye on the cheese as the sandwich heats, you don’t need to cook it much past the point where the cheese has started to melt.
  7. Finish sandwich: When the panini is ready, use a plastic spatula to remove the sandwich from the press. Plate the sandwich, cutting it in half if you like for presentation effects. Serve with an extra dollop of pesto. Enjoy!


  • We gave this recipe for one panini, but it scales up easily. If you make pesto fresh for this recipe, you will have enough for several sandwiches and/or some leftover for another meal.
  • Use pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts for a nut free pesto.
  • This turkey panini is also good with kale pesto.
  • To make this turkey pesto panini without a sandwich press, do so in similar fashion to a basic grilled cheese in a skillet. Use a spatula to press down on the sandwich as it cooks to facilitate the melting.
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